The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) stretched its legs yesterday after being off for four days, and now the index is off and running. As of 12:40 p.m. EDT, the stock exchange is at 13,213, up 117 points, or 0.89%. Numbers from ADP saying that 158,000 jobs were created in October may be helping the markets. In addition, initial jobless claims came in slightly lower for the week of Oct. 20, down 9,000 from the prior week to 363,000 claims. But positive earnings reports from a number of companies this morning are likely the reason the market is moving higher.
So why are they down?
Pfizer reported earnings this morning, and even after reporting a decline in revenue by 16%, the company still beat earnings-per-share estimates by a penny. The revenue owed to its monster drug Lipitor falling from patent protection and sales taking massive hits across the world markets. Further, the company narrowed its forecast for the remainder of the year. Shares of the pharmaceutical company are down 1.29%.
Shares of the big-box store giant Wal-Mart are also down, losing 1.76% thus far. While there is really no negative news to be found about the company, one story that could be affecting the stock prices today ties Wal-Mart, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , and Boeing (NYSE: BA ) together. These companies, as well as a few other organizations, issued a manifesto this morning demanding better price transparency from the health care and insurance industries. The complaint is that no one knows the price of medical procedures until the bill arrives in the mail. It goes still further, stating that consumers should have the right to see pricing and shop around for the best deal before any medical care is administered.
Just more than a year ago, Wal-Mart cut medical benefits to part-time employees. The company's recent actions may have some investors believing the company will expand health benefits to more employees if the medical industry meets the manifesto's requests.
Finally, shares of ExxonMobil have been bouncing between positive and negative today after the company announced earnings this morning. The company's revenue fell 8% due to the declining price of oil and lower output. The company said its refining business in the U.S. rose 78% during the quarter. Shareholders should not expect the refinery portion to continue this growth; much of that was probably related to other refineries temporarily closing during storms in the gulf and the Chevron refinery fire.
While General Electric is up today, that's not always the case. During the recent financial crisis, the company took huge hits, but management took advantage of the market's dip to make strategic bets in energy. If you're a GE investor, you need to understand how these bets could drive this company to become the world's infrastructure leader. At the same time, you need to be aware of the threats to GE's portfolio. To help, we're offering comprehensive coverage for investors in a premium report on General Electric, in which our industrials analyst breaks down GE's multiple businesses. You'll find reasons to buy or sell GE, and you'll receive continuing updates as major events unfold during the year. To get started, click here now.